WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- A top White House economic adviser told U.S. media Wednesday that the country could see zero growth in gross domestic production in the first quarter due to the ongoing partial government shutdown.
Asked by a CNN reporter whether it is possible that if the shutdown continues beyond March, it could lead to no growth of the U.S. economy in the first quarter, Kevin Hassett, chairman of White House Council of Economic Advisers, said, "we could, yes."
"It is true that if we get a typically weak first quarter and then have an extended shutdown, we could end up with a number that is very very low," Hassett said.
However, he said that he expected the growth to bounce back when the government reopens, and that the number for the second quarter would be "humongous" if the government shutdown ends by then.
The growth rate "would be like 4 or 5 percent," he added.
Adopting an optimistic tone about the current status of the overall U.S. economy, Hassett said the United States is "at a time in the business cycle that is especially good for people who have been separated from society and disadvantaged by the weak economy of the Great Recession," and right now the income at the lower end of society is growing faster than for people as a whole.
With respect to the furloughed federal employees who have missed their paychecks amid the shutdown, the economic adviser said he himself and his staff are "dealing with the very very difficult problem" of not getting a paycheck. And one of his staffers is driving for Uber since that's the only way he can pay his bills and feed his family.
The partial government shutdown, triggered by a partisan impasse over President Donald Trump's demand for funding of a border wall, has been affecting some 800,000 federal workers and has now stretched to the 33rd day, eclipsing all the previous closures.
"I think if people are not getting paid and they face the kind of uncertainty that we are putting them under -- and we did it 22 times in a couple of decades -- we've got a political system that's not fundamentally serving us," Hassett said.